Walton Gas employees celebrate National Chili Day in the office, swapping preparation techniques and secret ingredient ideas for making the perfect pot.

Ah, chili….that warm and comforting dish that’s ideal for cold February days. We can all agree we love it, but most of us have a pretty strong opinion about what goes into making a perfect pot of it.

Most of us agree on the basic ingredients: meat, beans and tomatoes. Beyond that, the recipes vary with the cook.

February 23 is National Chili Day.

We asked Walton Gas employees what they add to the pot to make their chili special. Now, we’re spilling the beans and telling you our secrets.

What’s your “secret” ingredient for making great chili?


Chuck roast – Pete Ervin, community and members services. “I like to cut up chuck roast into bite-size pieces and sear it before putting it into the chili pot.”

Pork shoulder – Ashlie Franklin, commercial sales. “I use pork shoulder cut into small bits.”

Game meat – Jeff Paul, community and members services. “If you’re a hunter, mix things up by replacing ground beef with duck, quail or venison.”


Homemade chili seasoning – Kerie Garrett, data processing. “Skip the store-bought packet. Make your own spice mix with seasonings and dried large chili peppers sold in Hispanic food sections of stores.” Make a jar of mix and use it for several batches of chili. Here’s a homemade chili season recipe to get you started.

Habanero chili peppers Greg Brooks, communications. “Instead of jalapeno peppers, I use habaneros for some extra kick.”

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauceKacey Malcom, front counter. “I use canned chipotle peppers instead of chili powder. An 8-ounce can is enough for 5 pounds of meat. Don’t forget to remove and discard the pepper seeds before putting them in your chili pot.”


Sugar – Connie Bentley, accounting. “I add brown sugar to give it a hint of sweetness.” In addition to balancing flavors, adding white granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey or molasses helps reduce the acidity of tomatoes. SueBee recommends adding about 1/4 cup of honey per pot.

Chocolate – Kathy Ivie, community and members services. “A dash of unsweetened cocoa powder or a couple ounces of bittersweet chocolate complements chipotle chili peppers.”

Vinegar – Donna Brooks, accounting. “Stir in 1 teaspoon of vinegar just before you take the chili off the stove.” Use apple cider, red wine, balsamic or sherry vinegar.

Beer– Sara Beddington, marketing. “If the recipe calls for water, I use beer instead.” A stout (dark) beer or red wine yields best flavor. The alcohol will cook off, leaving behind a rich, deep flavor that pairs with the heat and smoke of the other chili ingredients.

Coffee – Savannah Chandler, communications. “Add a cup of strong, brewed coffee to bring out the flavor of the spices.”

Lime juiceLiz Wright, data processing. “Right before you take it off the stove, add a good squeeze of lime or lemon to perk up the flavor.”

February 23 is National Chili Day. It’s a great excuse to try a new flavor-boosting liquid, an unexpected seasoning or a genius add-in to enhance your recipe and make your pot of chili the best yet. Enjoy!